Poor Fellow My Country

Xavier Herbert’s “Poor Fellow My Country” has been sitting on my shelf for 11 years now – the olds gave it to me for Easter ’97.  First published in ’75, it’s set in the Northern Territory during the interwar years and follows the lives (amongst many others) of Jeremy DeLacy, a wealthy pastoralist, and his Aboriginal grandson, Prindy. At its core, the weighty tome is concerned with the struggle to create an identity for what Herbert calls “Terra Australis del Espiritu Santo”, or the southern land of the Holy Spirit…

As one who appreciates the odd rant, the sustained rage is impressive. The book itself is divided into three “books”, the titles and accompanying epitaphs of which give a pretty good snapshot:

Book One: Terra Australis – Blackman’s Idyll Despoiled by White Bullies, Thieves and Hypocrites
Book Two: Australia Felix – Whiteman’s Ideal Sold Out by Rogues and Fools
Book Three: Day of Shame – A Rabble Fled the Test of Nationhood

Without wanting to sound like a tit, it has been one of my life goals to get though this book, and while sitting in a Mae Sariang guest house – final success! It’s seriously long, just shy of 1500 pages, apparently making it one of the longest novels ever published. It has been a bit of a laugh carting it through Thailand. Other backpackers must think I’m reading the Bible – what an odd looking missionary!  I’m now going to indulge in Inspector Rebus for some page turning relief.


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4 Responses to “Poor Fellow My Country”

  1. beno Says:


    you’re too skinny in this photo – perhaps in reference to that massive book.

    whatever the reason, get a foreign extra strength in you for good measure.


  2. bubba Says:

    Thin indeed.
    Must be all the running after [or before] the pachyderms.
    Thanks for nothing with this post.
    Yet another tome has been placed on my list as a result.

  3. Verte Says:


    i too thought you were looking thin. what’s with that? not enough osso bucco/bunny/pork night.

    i’m liking the hair cut!

    we miss you kids.


  4. Marshie Says:

    That’s totally the look you have on your face for important occassions like getting admitted, graduating, family dinners. I guess it’s quite a feat. Like watching three series of Buffy in one day…
    Ah ha ha.
    p.s. say hi to Richo and Mary and stop pretending you are a stock broker on the phone and order some room service.

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